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August 11, 1997

No Gloating Allowed

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Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice. PROVERBS 24:17
What do you do when someone who has long been a thorn in your side gets laid off, fired, demoted, or reprimanded? Do you get satisfaction from knowing that he finally got what he had coming to him? Do you delight in the fact that he is probably hurting, financially or otherwise? Do you rejoice that he’s out of your life for good?
Such feelings are natural, especially if the person has been particularly troublesome. But be careful. Before you hold a party to celebrate his absence, read on in Proverbs to find out what might happen: “[T]he LORD will see [your rejoicing] and disapprove and turn his wrath away from [your rival]” (Proverbs 24:18).
Ouch. That kind of puts a damper on things, doesn’t it?
Now let’s say you continually checked your heart and your motives regarding this coworker and could honestly say that the problem was entirely with him. And let’s say that you were faithful in praying for him and in asking God to help you deal with the situation. Does this passage mean that you can’t be thankful that he’s no longer around?
No, of course not. You did what you were supposed to do, and God took care of the rest. But any rejoicing you do should be in God’s faithfulness, rather than in your former coworker’s demise. Remember what God said: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay” (Deuteronomy 32:35).
Proverbs makes it clear that refraining from gloating when our enemies fall isn’t always easy. The very wording of Proverbs 24:17—”do not let your heart rejoice”— indicates that it takes intentional discipline. What are you doing to develop that kind of discipline in your life?

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